Guest Blogger #485, Entry #1121, April 24, 2012
These days there’s a lot more to a media center than just a TV. Remember when adding a VCR and an Atari to your setup was the height of home entertainment luxury? Okay, you probably don’t. But there was a time, not so long ago, when a TV was it. They all operated on standard definition (shudder) and cable was like, 30 channels. But mom, dad, how did you ever survive without Xbox? Well, kids, it wasn’t easy. In any case, those days are long gone now. It seems that every household not only has a 50-inch LCD TV (in every room), but also 1,000 channels of satellite cable (with hundreds of HD selections), a DVR, and so many game stations that the entertainment center is starting to look like the command deck of the Starship Enterprise. The point is, you may have a lot more media devices than you can reasonably handle looking at in your living room (not to mention the movies and games stacked on every surface). But there is a solution and it starts in your basement.
Image via: Hgtv
Finishing off your basement
If your basement is of the unfinished variety you’ve got some work ahead of you what with installing carpeting, drywall, and lighting (other than the naked bulb currently hanging from the ceiling). Once you’ve got the basic setup in place, though, it’s time to think about what you want to include in your media center. The first matter to address is the TV situation, and because you likely have a lot of space in your basement you could (and should) opt for a fairly large monitor so that even those in the back of the house (so to speak) can see every detail. You might even consider installing a projector of some sort, but keep in mind that these only work really well in the dark (an environment that the average basement is ideally suited for). Once you’ve got that step figured out, you need to think about how to handle storage.
Okay, so you don’t have all of your electronics in place yet. But you can probably guess that you’ll have several “boxes” (cable, game consoles, etc.) as well as a ton of media, mainly in the form of plastic DVD cases. When you know how much space your TV will consume you can start to plan built-in (or moveable) storage around it. The nice thing about built-ins is that they’ll blend seamlessly into your floor plan; but it behooves you to be fairly certain about the placement of your monitor (or monitors) beforehand since built-ins can’t be moved after the fact. You should arrange for some closed storage (to hide DVDs), some open (to showcase books and display items), and plenty of shelving with notches cut in the back corners to accommodate cables.
Image via: Sawdustandpaperscraps
Of course, before you get that far you may want to consider the wiring. Do a broadband comparison of services in your area to see about setting up the cable modem, DSL, or T1 line you need to stream Netflix, Hulu, and other online options straight to your TV (not to mention getting your Xbox Live account up and running). You’ll definitely want to install fiber-optic cable and plenty of independent outlets before the walls go in to ensure that your space is ready for all of the electronics and communication devices your modern media center requires. From there it’s just a matter of placing a superior surround-sound system and throwing in some comfortable seating, and you’re all set to be entertained.
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